The Truth About Betrayal Trauma

Knowing the truth about betrayal trauma is the first step to finding healing, peace, and hope. Betrayal trauma is the result of abuse. BTR can help. Read more.

Tragically, the sex addiction therapy community has twisted the term “betrayal trauma” into something it is not. When victims know the truth about betrayal trauma, they can find healing, hope and peace.

Betrayal Trauma: The Result of Abuse, Not Addiction

A man’s “addiction” cannot and does not cause betrayal trauma.

Betrayal trauma is the result of abuse.

Betrayal, in and of itself, is abuse (this includes pornography use).

When women courageously accept that they are not married to a troubled, diseased “addict” (though some abusers may also be addicted), but to an abuser, they able to tackle the real issue and find safety.

Victims who are told to view their abuser as a sex addict and themselves as a codependent are like a heart attack patient being told to visit an eye doctor. It just doesn’t make sense.

Because betrayal trauma is the result of abuse. Not addiction.

What Makes Betrayal Trauma Worse?

Tragically, some of the recommendations that CSATs make to victims of betrayal trauma are the very things that cause them serious harm and compound their betrayal trauma.

So what makes betrayal trauma worse?

  • Engaging with the abuser: abusers will blame, shame, gaslight, turn tables, lie to, criticize, love-bomb, and re-traumatize victims. When CSATs, clergy, and others counsel traumatized women to share their feelings, ask questions, or work on their communication with the abuser, they are sending a lamb to the slaughter. Instead, victims should avoid engaging with the abuser and set boundaries that protect them from the harm that comes from conversations and associations with partners who are known to harm them.
  • Counseling and confiding in clergy: clergy-induced trauma is tragically common in betrayal trauma victims. When couples are counseled to meet together with clergy, or women confide one-on-one with religious leaders and clergy disbelieve, minimize, betray, or humiliate the victim, the secondary trauma can be debilitating beyond words. Instead, trauma victims need to spend their time with trauma-informed professionals.
  • Isolation and secrecy: CSATs may counsel women to keep the “problems in the marriage” private. This is problematic because pornography use and abuse are not a marriage problem – they are his problem. And essentially, by telling the victim to “keep it private”, victims are being told to stay silent and isolated. An isolated victim is exactly what an abuser wants.

You Can Heal From Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma can feel debilitating, overwhelming, and insurmountable. It can also feel deeply lonely.

But you can heal. You can find peace. You can find yourself again.

Victims of betrayal trauma need a strong and steady supportive group of safe people to rely on as they begin their healing journey. The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast is a great place to start. Victims need validation and unconditional acceptance from a safe community of other women who understand.

You can also attend a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Session TODAY and begin your healing journey.

Remember, you’re not alone.


  1. Debbie

    In the case of abusive people, like those with narcissistic personality disorder, they can also tell you their “story” and it may or may not be true, or parts of it may be true, but people like this start believing their own lies and it becomes their “reality”. So when you are communicating with people with personality disorders or pathologically driven issues, remember that their “truth” can be a manufactured part of their own “reality”. It is scary if you think about it, how disturbed these people we lived with can be.

    • Sandra

      This ^^^^^

  2. Ann

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kathleen. My experience is very similar. If the church as a whole followed the New Testament discipline for abuse and sexual sin, then maybe we could trust their help. But, until then, it is not a safe place for victims. Thanks Anne for all you do!

  3. Michelle Mejia

    I’m wondering what it was the local shelter considered abuse? It would’ve been good if more of that was expounded on because of heard of other women calling and then saying it’s not abuse.

    • Anne Blythe

      Some shelters don’t help women who “only” experience emotional and psychological abuse. Some shelters only help if there has been a crime involved. BTR specializes in emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion.

  4. Karen

    I was introduced to this site by a member of my Facebook Covert Narcissism support group. This story resonated with me SO MUCH! I was in a 35 year relationship with additional personality complications as well as challenges with pornography. I cannot wait for Part II. I have already listened to Part I multiple times. I glean something new every time I listen to it. Phenomenal work you are doing in this organization!

    • Anonymous



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